Discover and develop your own visual language at the renowned Cambridge School of Art. Follow in the footsteps of award-winning, nationally and internationally recognised graduates, on your way to a career as a professional illustrator.
This course will equip you with the knowledge and creative skills you need to succeed as a professional illustrator.
Through discussion, critiques, tutorials, set briefs, and self-managed learning, you’ll discover and develop your own visual language, which is so important in today’s competitive market.
As well as our staff team - Course Leader Chris Draper, Pam Smy and Jim Butler - you’ll work with nationally-recognised practising visiting lecturers, who will give you their perspectives on modern-day illustration. Recent visitors include Jonny Hannah, Mark Hearld, Laura Carlin, George Butler and Graham Rawle.
You’ll also attend Professional Practice talks and discussions, which offer advice on how to succeed in this dynamic and exciting field.
Our course continues a 150-year tradition of drawing at Cambridge School of Art. By studying here, you’ll follow in the footsteps of designer and war artist Edward Bawden, acclaimed satirist and illustrator Ronald Searle, Roger Law and Peter Fluck, founders of the TV phenomenon Spitting Image, and more recently, Bethan Woollvin, winner of the Macmillan Prize in 2014, and Dominic McKenzie, who won YCN’s Student of the Year Award in 2011.
Our past students have found success in many different creative industries, often as a direct result of our end-of-course Degree Show or the New Designers exhibition in London. Past employers and commissioners have included Sky TV, Oxford University Press, Katana (creative media design agency), Eljo's Haberdashery, The Mill (post-production company), Wilkinson (for work on a luggage range), Hallmark cards, Tigerprint and Tesco.
Our students’ work has been reviewed in trade journals and design magazines including Blue Print and Creative Review. They’ve also received recognition in competitions like the YCN Awards (Max Machen, Winner of Royal Court Brief, 2013; Dominic McKenzie, Student of the Year 2011), the Penguin Design Awards (Tim Parker, Winner, Puffin Children's Prize 2013; Angharad Burnard, Highly Commended, Random House Design Award 2014) and the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Book Illustration (Bethan Woollvin, Winner 2014).
We retain annual membership of The AOI (Association of Illustrators), giving you access to a crucial industry network.
You’ll demonstrate your progress through a combination of written and practical work.
As well as verbal feedback given in taught sessions and tutorials you will be given thorough, personal written feedback, highlighting successes and indicating areas of improvement for future submissions.
Cambridge School of Art has been inspiring creativity since 1858 when it was opened by John Ruskin.
Engaging with current debates surrounding contemporary practice and with the state-of-the-art facilities, Cambridge School of Art houses light, bright studios, industry-standard film and photographic facilities, and 150-year-old printing presses alongside dedicated Apple Mac suites. Our digital art gallery, the Ruskin Gallery, exhibits both traditional shows and multimedia presentations, from national and international touring exhibitions and our own students.
We are the only university in Cambridge offering art and design courses at higher education level. A tight-knit community of artists, academics and over 900 students, we collaborate across our University, the creative industries, and other sectors. Cambridge is a centre for employment in the creative industries and there are rich opportunities for collaboration with the city’s entertainment, technological, scientific, arts and heritage industries.
Our graduates have a history of winning national and international awards and an excellent employment record. They include Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett and Dave Gilmour, Spitting Image creators Peter Fluck and Roger Law, and illustrator Ronald Searle, the creator of St Trinian's.
We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.
Additional study information
You’ll work in our beautiful dedicated Illustration studios right next door to the Ruskin Gallery. You’ll also have access to our other industry-standard art facilities, like printmaking, digital, animation and life drawing studios.
Across all three years there will be relevant volunteering opportunities, competitions and ability to participate in live industry briefs.
At the start of the second year, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in a one week intensive overseas drawing trip. Previous trip have been run to Porto and Seville.
At the end of your course you will have the opportunity to display your work to the public and professional commissioners at the Cambridge School of Art Degree Show and optionally at New Designers in London.
Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.
If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.
You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.Paying your fees
We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.
Grants and scholarships are available for:
We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.
You must submit a portfolio that includes:
If you’re invited to interview you’ll receive a letter with more information about our portfolio requirements.
If you’re an international applicant, please host your portfolio online if possible and let us know the URL, or email it to us as a PDF. We’ll also accept CDs or hardcopy sent by post to our International Admissions Office, but please note that these will not be returned to you.
For more information, please download our digital portfolio pack.
Important additional notes
Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email email@example.com for further information.
We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.
We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.
If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.
If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.
Add all your qualifications to the tariff calculator and check your total score against the entry requirements for your chosen intake, which can be found above
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